The team we took to Beijing, included kids who were 5,6,7,8 years old. We took anyone who wanted to come. During the tournament the boys took it on the chin, losing all five games by a total combined score of 1 -60. We played teams who consisted of ONLY 8 and 9 year olds, who were hand picked from a much bigger pool of players.
Last Sunday, the U8 Team returned from Hong Kong. This is the biggest tournament in Asia, with 53 teams and 13 teams in our U8 age group. The boys played five games, as they played the year before, but the result was much different both on and off the ice.
The boys had a great time on Wednesday night at the players and coaches only dinner. They enjoyed watching their Captains give some speeches, and let's not forget the pasta & delicious desserts! There had been considerable growth over the year in terms of team unity, sportsmanship, leadership, and friendships.
The talk in the arena, from opposing coaches and parents, was no longer now cute and small these kids were, and questions about how old they were, but more about how well they played as a team & how hard they
On the ice, the boys won two back-to-back games on Thursday and Friday, 2-0 & 3-2 - must win games in order to finish 2nd in the round robin and participate in the U8 Finals Saturday night.
These wins came after an opening game 5-0 win, and the U8's first loss of the season against the unstoppable Beijing Wolves. As fate would have it, the Thunderbirds met up with the Wolves again in the championship
game. Despite playing their best game of the week, the final score was Little Wolves 4, Shanghai Thunderbirds 0.
The exact same U8 Little Wolves Team also played in the finals of the Tournament's U10 division.
The boys all stood tall and proud as they went up one by one to receive their silver finalist medals. By no means did they look like they had been defeated.
One year later, not only did the Thunderbirds make it to the finals, the Team was awarded with two of the four U8 individual awards:
Ben Matts was awarded Best Defensivemen of the Tournament
Owen Lee was awarded Best Goaltender of the Tournament.
(The Thunderbirds were recognized by the tournament organizer has havingthe best jerseys of the tournament - Thunderbirds yellow 3rd Select jersey)
One year later, the coaches and parents are as proud of the kids in Hong Kong as they were in Beijing. But what a big difference a year made both on and off the ice. As the kids boarded flight KA 864 from Hong Kong to Shanghai, they proudly displayed their silver medals demonstrating to all that they are 2nd best U8 team in Asia, and they
had every right to be.
STMHA Beat reporter